Matt Barkley and Logan Thomas' Performances Raise Red Flags in Week 3 Losses

Danny FlynnSenior Analyst ISeptember 16, 2012

Matt Barkley certainly didn't look like an elite quarterback in USC's loss to Stanford
Matt Barkley certainly didn't look like an elite quarterback in USC's loss to StanfordEzra Shaw/Getty Images

USC’s Matt Barkley and Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas began the 2012 season as the two most talked-about eligible quarterback prospects for the 2013 NFL draft. However, we’re only three weeks into the season, and already there are some serious questions and concerns surrounding both of them.

Both Barkley and Thomas were on the wrong end of the two biggest upsets of the third Saturday of the season.

Barkley’s Trojans were stunned by Stanford 21-14 on the road, while Thomas’ Hokies were clobbered 35-17 at Pitt. Neither player performed well in a losing effort.

Barkley completed just 20 of his 41 attempts, threw two interceptions and was sacked five times in his fourth straight loss to the Cardinal. Thomas completed just 14 of his 31 pass attempts, threw three interceptions and ran for just 28 yards.

The two quarterbacks’ severe struggles this early in the season certainly must have NFL scouts concerned.

Going into the season, one of the big questions about Barkley was whether he would be able to handle the spotlight and pressure that came with being hailed the preseason Heisman favorite and the front-runner to be the No. 1 overall pick.

After putting up huge numbers against inferior opponents in the first two weeks of the season, the senior signal-caller finally had the national stage against a quality opponent to show the college football world he was deserving of the hype, and he blew the opportunity.

Thomas’ biggest weaknesses are considered his inconsistent accuracy and spotty decision-making, and both of those were highlighted with a poor passing performance against the Panthers.

The road to the NFL draft is a marathon, not a sprint, so there’s certainly still plenty of time for both players to redeem themselves in the months to come.

Still, this obviously isn’t what you want to see from the two supposed star quarterback prospects of the 2013 NFL draft so early in the season.

Thomas is just a junior, and he could always return for his senior year instead of declaring for the 2013 draft if he doesn’t have the campaign this season that many were expecting.

Barkley, on the other hand, now has to be wondering if choosing to return to USC instead of opting to declare for the 2012 draft, in which he almost certainly would have been the No. 3 overall pick, was truly the right decision.

After Saturday’s loss, there’s now about a 95 percent chance that the much-ballyhooed quarterback will not be winning the BCS championship or the Heisman Trophy that he hoped to claim this season.

The Trojans quarterback still does have the chance to fulfill the destiny that sports media set up for him in the offseason and become the No. 1 overall pick of the 2013 NFL draft. However, there’s no doubt that his image has been tarnished, and his reputation as an elite franchise quarterback prospect will now be second-guessed by many critics and naysayers.

The good news for Barkley and Thomas is that they aren’t the only top quarterback prospects that already have blemishes on their 2012 records. Arkansas' Tyler Wilson, N.C. State’s Mike Glennon, Tennessee’s Tyler Bray and Washington’s Keith Price have all tasted defeat as well this season.

There are two highly-touted Big 12 senior quarterbacks, West Virginia’s Geno Smith and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, who now have the opportunity to really make a move up the quarterback pecking order. Smith and Jones are each capable of potentially leapfrogging Barkley and becoming the new No. 1 quarterback prospect if they play up to their potential this season.

It will all work itself out in the coming months. Right now, though, it appears that Barkley and Thomas may not be the true slam-dunk elite prospects that they were originally made out to be.

Both of them have the potential to still end up as top-10 draft picks in 2013. However, after this weekend, they’ve obviously got some work to do in order to rehabilitate and repair their damaged draft stock.